My Long Journey To Becoming A Vegetarian...Who Eats Bacon

Jim Bowie

Bacon was on my mind for four years.

Between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I decided to go vegetarian. The choice was for health reasons. People could freely eat their delicious carnivore meals in front of me without judgment. I, however, was envious. The next four years proved to be difficult without my favorite meat -- delicious, crispy bacon.

The first summer of vegetarianism was brutal. Ice cream, Oreos and English muffins are technically meat-free, but they weren't really living up to my new healthy mantra. I actually have to eat vegetables and beans, Mom? That's no fun unless bacon is involved.

Over the next few years I finally fell into a bona fide vegetarian diet and overall, felt healthier. I learned how to replace meat with beans and incorporate dark greens into my diet for protein and vitamins. But at the end of the day, no one really wants to “feast” on a kale salad. Give the people their bacon. For the record, mock bacon is not the same as real bacon. Shocker, I know.

Many people asked me how I could live without meat. It took time. It was not easy. Most restaurants overwhelmingly serve meals with meat as the protein. I, however, had to suck it up and adjust. I was determined to stick to my plan.

The silver lining was that I had no foreseeable end date to my vegetable-loving, bacon-free diet… until I bought a condo during the summer of 2015. Huh? A condo? I'll explain.

I “adulted” in July 2015 by officially buying a condo. It was stressful, but exciting. To celebrate, I went out to a lovely place in Milwaukee called The Hotch Spot. This was August 2015, more than four years without bacon (four years, one month and 22 days to be exact).

We sat down at the table and I had an epiphany. I invested so much time in growing up and buying a condo that I deserved a celebration -- and something delicious. One sandwich will not change all of my hard work. I ordered the grilled cheese BEP, a delightful concoction of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, avocado, grilled onion, Italian seasoning, BACON, fried egg and pesto on rye. I told my friends that I needed to have that. Somehow, that sandwich spoke to me.

That sandwich made my heart sing. It was a euphoric experience and I savored the beautiful, crispy glory of bacon. I ate that whole sandwich and lusted for more. What's more, it didn't upset my stomach. From that moment on, I dubbed myself a bacatarian, one who is a vegetarian and eats bacon. I may be the only one to ever coin such a term, but I am damn proud.

At the end of the day, bacon makes me happy. It doesn't discriminate against my weak, vegetarian stomach. I eat at least one BLT every week and I'll never look back. Now, it might take a while for nutritionists to get on board with this meal plan. But I am not complaining -- I get to eat bacon whenever I want. Plus, I am a marathoner runner and we need our strength on the race track.

Long story short, don't stress about strict diets. In the end, you'll only crave the things you love most. I indulge when I want to and make a point to exercise regularly. I firmly believe that the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. So, go ahead, have that BLT and don't go four years without another one.

This article was originally published on the author's personal blog.